Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cute Baby

So, lots of words lately. Surprisingly, I have little to say today. Just thought I'd share my adorable baby. You're welcome ;)

Today's lesson - sometimes we all take on too much. And we may even have good reason to take on too much. That doesn't mean it won't quickly become overwhelming and a bad idea. Know when you've hit the realm of "too much" and back out quickly, friend.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sleep "Tips"

Emms asked in a comment a few posts back whether I had any tips for helping her Bug learn to fall asleep on her own. And I simply laughed out loud (for real). But it wasn't one of those funny-haha moments. It was more of a really bitter, "sleep, what the hell do I know about sleep" kind of moments. And so I've been stewing about how to respond to her. Because I realized that I do know a lot about babies and sleep. And either I'm not using what I know with baby E, or it's simply not working. But maybe it could help her, and others.
So, Emms, here's the not-at-all short answer to your seemingly simple question. I have several suggestions, things you could try, and they may or may not work. Okay, so here are a few, and my thoughts on them all. First, there's the whole CIO it out thing, but you know my stance on it, which I think actually lines up with yours as well :) So, screw CIO.

Second, a bedtime routine is really important. The kid's was way better and more consistent that baby E's (which is something that we need to look at in dealing with his sleep issues). It looked something like this - around 7pm he got a bath (if it was bath night, though sometimes if he was riled up for some reason he got one just because), then a good 5-10 minute massage (now this was really important and seemed to make a huge difference with him getting calmed down and ready for sleep), then we'd sit in the rocking chair and I'd nurse/give him a bottle, followed by reading 2 books, then singing 2 songs. We'd then head to his bed. The whole thing was less than 45 minutes. Any longer than that and it seemed to not work as well.

Third, there's this sleep sweet spot, for lack of a better term, when baby is tired, but not overtired. This is what you need to look for. Beware, though, it's not the time to start the bedtime routine! It's the time for baby to be in bed. So you have to know about when baby will be ready to go to sleep and plan backwards to start the bedtime routine. Yawning and fussing are super late signs of baby being tired. Look for those early signs. With the kid it was pulling at his ears and hair and starting to become overactive. With baby E, it red-rimmed eyes and a general goofiness.

Lastly, and this is, I think, where we're headed with baby E because it's what worked with the kid. It is kind of a modified/non-CIO method. Let me explain what I mean by that. The premise of CIO is that you put  baby in the bed, and walk away, not picking his/her back up. Now, you're "allowed" to go in at increasingly longer time frames to check on baby, but you can't pick him/her up (and frankly, you're not really encouraged to go back in at all). So, here's what we did with the kid. I'd do the whole bedtime routine, then lay him down in his bed awake. The first several nights, he'd scream as soon as I put him down. I would stand next to the bed, with my arms around him, while he stood up, patting and verbally reassuring him (often singing). Now, after 1-2 minutes he only was crying a little, but not really crying I guess. It was more fussing than anything. Eventually, though, he'd sit down, then lay down. Through all that, I was right there, in physical contact with him, so he knew I hadn't abandoned him and I knew he was okay.

After a few nights, he would lay right down as soon as I put him in there. I patted him through the crib bars til he fell asleep. After several more days of that, I laid him down and just sat near the crib, but didn't touch him. I eventually worked my way out of the room and he's been good to go ever since. All in all, it probably took 2-3 weeks. I remember he also started sleeping through the night more consistently around this time, too. And I have to think the two are probably related.

I've started this with baby E, though I'm not being as consistent as I was with the kid. But, this momma is desperate for some sleep (I think it's finally started to catch up to me!) so we're going to start hardcore this weekend. Pray for us, y'all!

So, those are my thoughts. I'd love to hear those of others - both what's worked and what hasn't (because just because it didn't work for your kid doesn't mean it won't for someone else's!). Seriously, I really would because - again - I'm exhausted here.

Today's lesson - I think we often rely too much on the "experts" and forget to follow what our own guts tell us to do. Parenting - good parenting - is about listening to that "expert" and non-expert advice, filtering through it all and, through trial-and-error, doing what works for us and our individual kiddos.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kindergarten Bad Boy Club

Oh but my boy had a bad day at school today. First he got on "red" (they have a level system of green, yellow and red, with green = good, red = bad, and yellow is somewhere in between) in class. Yesterday he got a yellow, but was able to bring it back up to a green. Shew. Today all the way red and not so much with the bringing it back up. Ugh. THEN, he - according to the piece of paper sent home - smeared mud on another kid (not that big of a deal), and punched, that's right PUNCHED another kid in. the. face. That, people, is a big problem. And, (sigh) the trouble didn't take long to pop up.

So, I ask him about it and the just moments before super happy kid, clams up and refuses to make eye contact. Quietness and lack of eye contact, in my kid, can only mean a handful of things. Either he's sick, or completely exhausted, or super guilty. I'm betting on both exhausted and guilty. What a fun combo.

So, the story goes like this. "Momma you forgot to remind me to follow all the rules and that's why I talked in the hall. 'Cause me and some others forgot we weren't supposed to do that." And then... "Alexis was tagging me and I didn't want to be tagged and I told her to stop and she didn't. So I told her to stop and she still didn't. So then I..." and we resume with the muteness and lack of eye contact. So that leads me to believe that he did hit the other kid. Although, I really don't believe that he punched her (yes, the other kid was a girl, though, really, that makes not one bit of difference to me). Regardless, kid's got some consequences coming.

I asked him how he was feeling and he (using an angry voice) asked me why I was making him feel so sad. It was a good learning opportunity. So we talked about how other people can't make us feel a particular way and it was probably his conscious making him feel so sad. Then he cried. And my heart broke a little.

In other news, the kid's medicine has been out the last couple of days and he's been waking up super early. Related to punching other people much?!??!!! I think so, too.

Today's lesson - it's so hard, as a parent, to separate yourself from your child. By taking responsibility for everything they do, we can set ourselves up in a bad way. It allows them to blame us for every choice they make. They need to take responsibility for their bad choices, in order to learn to make better choices. And they need to take responsibility for their good choices, because this gives them the confidence to know that they are indeed capable of independence.

Monday, August 22, 2011

And the Frustration, or Advocacy, Begins

So, at the kid's Kindergarten "Kick-Off" he - as well as all of the kids who attended - participated in an assessment. Well, kiddo failed his first public school "test". While he told them his colors in Spanish (without being asked) and finally in English, and scored 93/100 on the Math concepts, he refused to participate in the Reading portion. In his defense, he was super tired (it was nearly 7pm by then and bedtime is 7:30, plus we'd had to wake him up from a really late nap to go) and simply put his head down and said he didn't want to participate. Now, reading has never been the kid's fav activity. Well, he loves to be read to, but he's simply not yet overly interested in reading himself. However, kid can identify all his letters, knows all their sounds, can read a few words, can write his name and most uppercase letters, and, in my opinion, is on par with all Kindergarten expectations.

So, the teacher called us out after the assessment and told us that she believes he's smart, but was just tired. She did warn us that the score wouldn't support that opinion. However, I didn't realize just how that score would affect us. Already.

Until today. When we received a letter in his take home folder saying he's been flagged for participation in an "Early Success" reading program. My defenses were immediately up as I waded through all the emotions. Of course I think my baby is a genius (honestly, that's not true. I think he's smart, but not genius-like. I don't think that makes me a bad parent, either, just an honest one). No parent wants anyone to insinuate otherwise. But that wasn't it, wasn't what has gotten me so upset.

There were two things that have me (for real) pissed off about this. The first is that I *know* children of color are discriminated against in the public school system. They are so much more likely to be labeled with some kind of disorder and end up with special education services. And, as we all know by now, I was already feeling sensitive the possibility of him being labeled.

Second, I really and truly believe that the kid is on par with where he should be for his age/grade. And this reliance on "the test" has me livid. It is and has been my one, true problem with the public school system. I understand the need for tests and assessments to give us a baseline from which to begin. However, even the teacher recognized that the test wasn't an accurate assessment of his abilities. And yet we STILL go with it?! Uh, no. We won't be doing that.

So, I wrote an email to the teacher asking what, exactly, the recommendation is based on (though, really, the letter didn't phrase it as a recommendation; it was more of a "how nice of us to let you know we're sending your kid to a special reading group for kids who are behind" kind of phrasing). I also asked for the specific areas he's struggling with, as we'll focus on those at home.

So, yeah. I'm ticked. And it didn't take long. Momma bear is, I'm afraid, here to stay.

Today's lesson - just because your baby has 4 teeth, it doesn't necessarily mean he'll bite while nursing. Who knew?!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mosquitos, and rocks and camping - oh my!

I'm covered in mosquito bites. I was stung on the temple by a bee (or something). I'm itchy. My head hurts. Baby E didn't sleep for crap all weekend. I forgot the camera at home. I sweated - a lot. The kid had a couple of awesome and blubbery meltdowns. Remind me again why I like camping? Oh yeah. There's this...

  (Thanks to Gram for the pics, which I stole off her facebook page!)

Today's lesson - When you're 5, BaindAid's cure just about anything. Ahh, to be 5 again...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1st Week of Kindergarten

So, my kiddo, my BABY started Kindergarten last Thursday. I told you HERE all about my anxieties around this huge event, and I am happy to report - so far so good!! The first day went a little something like this.

Kiddo woke up and Poppa (aka the "Popparatzie" - hahaha - I am so funny!) started taking picture after picture of him. Brushing his teeth...

All dressed up sporting his new backpack. It's red, his absolute favorite color. (Sidebar: topic for another day - why is red his fav color? Where did this preference come from? It's so cool to see his personality come shining through in the most unexpected ways.)

Me and my boy, posing. I handled this day better than I'd expected. I only teared up a few times, and never in front of him. So, that seems like success to me.

Walking to school. We had to park several blocks away. It was fun to walk him in, though. And, honestly, I wish I could do it every morning. That's not gonna happen. Maybe on special days... (Note to self : according to the kid, those are all the days on which we eat Honey Nut Cheerios.)

As soon as we walked in, and he saw the ridiculous numbers of people in the room, he was stuck to my side like glue. I don't blame him. There were A LOT of people there. But the teacher had some playdough and little cookie cutters sitting on their desks which seemed to get them involved and him unattached from my hip. It's like she knows what she's doing or something...Huh.

We all took a picture together outside of his room, then hubby had to jet on outta there to get to his own first day of school. I hung around for a bit longer, ya know, just to make sure. Baby E and I gave him kisses, and then headed out. He was happily absorbed in playdough as I left.  His comment about his day when he got home was "it was great! Mrs. L was even nicer than I thought she was". Every day since he's said she was nicer than something else (a pumpkin, and yesterday pancakes - which he LOVES). And, that, my friends, sounds like a super successful first week.

Today's lesson: It is never - I repeat NEVER - acceptable to allow your 3 and a half year old child (or child of any age, for that matter) to intentionally hit someone in the face with his urine-soaked underwear without immediately responding with severe consequences. Not the 1st time. Or the 2nd time. And certainly not the third time. Please expect that that person step in to parent and will then give your child consequences, as you have apparently chosen not to. You have been warned.

Monday, August 15, 2011

End of Summer Moments

Here are some of my favorite final moments of summer...

Naked baby E swimming in the backyard pool. Look how thrilled he looks about the lack of clothing situation. Um, to clarify. I do mean that baby E looks pleased. Not hubby. He had clothes on. Thought I guess he, too, was pleased with baby E's adorable nakedness. Ya know what I mean.

Napping on the beach while camping. We normally camp with friends, which we love. But sometimes it's nice to get away, just the 4 of us.

Camping with my boys. His shirts says, "campers have s'more fun".

Oh, this silly, silly boy. Love that little dude. He decided to put on his life jacket in the car on the way home from camping. Just because.

This was the bounty from the garden, just one evening. Like, we get about this much every day or two. We hit the garden jackpot this year and have really only bought broccoli and cauliflower at the grocery, produce-wise, this summer.

Oh, this was the sweetest moment. Baby E was hungry and tired and I was trying to get a shower. Hubby was trying to hold him off til I was showered, dressed, etc... So, finally, I was. I walked in and hubby and baby E and the kid and his Bob bear were dancing in pairs. It. was. adorable. I think it was one of those moments I'll carry with me for a long time.

So, we went to a baseball game. It was the first time the kid sat still the whole time. Which is, for real, quite a feat. It may have had something to do with the drunk - but super nice - couple in front of us who kept buying him things (peanuts, a tee shirt each for him and baby E). They certainly kept us all entertained.

And this sweet baby slept through the majority of the game. Wish he'd sleep at night, but alas he does not. He has started walking pretty well, like 15-20 steps at a time. Only problem is he gets all thrilled with himself, starts laughing with delight at his accomplishment and promptly falls down. He is such a joyful little creature.

Today's lesson - time flies. To enjoy the little moments, you truly must live in them. Or they're gone before you realize they were even there.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's been a long time

It's been about 8 months since we've seen R. She moved out of state just before Christmas and our communication with her has been spotty at best due to her cell phone service being on again - off again. She texted about 2 weeks ago that she had come back to live with her mom, Ms. A, bringing her 4yo daughter back with her. We were all anxious to get together, and so today was the day.

The day, however, started out rough. We went to a baseball game last night and the kid got into bed 2 hrs late last night, and baby E didn't sleep well at all. So the kid was tired (read: super cranky and way whiny), and frankly so were hubby and I. We decided to meet at a local park so that the kid could run around crazy outside, instead of in the house, and in our faces. Also, honestly, it was so we could end the visit when we needed to. We needed to be able to leave when the kid started getting completely out of control, or baby E needed to nurse. Because that wasn't  going to happen in front of R especially since he pops on and off all the time. It just seemed a little too uncomfortable, for both of us, all of us.

So, anyway we decided on a park in town that was kind of close to R and Ms. A's house. We've been there before. It should have been easy to get there (uh, it wasn't). So, hubby and I had a big ole argument in the car trying to get there. We were done with each other by the time we got to the park. So that wasn't awkward at all.

All this to say that the visit should have been a disaster. And it wasn't. It was a little awkward. R is so quiet that after we'd exhausted the updates on what baby E is doing, I was grasping for things to say. Though I hope we will one day be friends and able to talk without discomfort, we're not there yet.

It was lovely to meet her daughter, who is the spitting image of her. She and the kid played together awesomely. Ms. A brought her friend, who has been with them on previous visits. It was nice to catch up with them, though they were also rather quiet. They did (all) bring baby E a couple of  toys and some cute outfits, which was so sweet.

It was okay to watch R taking baby E in, from the top of his sweet puffy 'fro, to the bottoms of his fat little feet, seeing herself in his beautiful eyes and long, skinny fingers. And this time, blessedly, I didn't feel hurt by her claiming parts of him for herself. This time, this time it was okay. This time it felt a lot like when M (babysitter and awesome friend) or K (bff extraordinaire) loves on him. Instead of feeling like her love of baby E put me in an uncertain position, there was gratefulness that there is someone else in this world who loves him.

And, in R's eyes, I think what I saw was joy and love, and yes, still pain. But, this time, the pain seemed not the be the primary emotion. And, for that, for her, I am so grateful. I can only hope that she still feels confident in her decision to allow us to parent baby E. I can only imagine that she still experiences a whole rainbow of emotions when thinking about (much less seeing!) him. But I hope that the grief and pain have eased some for her. Just like anyone else you love, I don't want her to be in pain, either.

Today's lesson - time does heal many wounds.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Here's the scene...Sunday morning, church, towards the end of mass. The kid has been pretty well-behaved, but is starting to talk a little loud. He's talking it up with the little girl sitting in the pew behind us. Yeah, mostly he's talking. Not her so much. Baby E is standing up next to him, gooey as always, grinning and batting those gorgeous eyelashes. The kid is chatting away. I'm not paying much attention to what he says, but keep reminding him to whisper. Hubby's oblivious. All of the sudden, the kid comes out with, "that's my baby brother". I think, "oh, he loves his baby brother. What cute thing is he going to say about him?". I'm still only half listening though. Then I hear, "my baby brother is brown. And I'm brown, too, not like you". The little  girl was very light complected, even paler than me. And then I hear - wait for it - "My brother's just a little brownie. We're just little brownies. Brownie boys". I quickly hushed him, not that ya coulda heard him say anything else anyway, over the laughter of the little girl's family and many of our neighbors (good hearted, I might add). I was, in turns, trying not to laugh, and feeling really embarrassed.

Then something else hit. A feeling that we've failed somewhere. Now, the kid hasn't mentioned his "brownness" in quite awhile, though he used to pretty frequently. So, honestly, it's just something I haven't really thought about. I'm guessing hubby also hasn't. And I feel like we've been remiss. We should have been talking about it, or at least providing open doors to allow him to talk about it, because it's obviously something that's been on his mind at least on occasion.

But, here's the thing, I don't know where to start. I don't know what to say. And I'm sure that's part of why we haven't. Not that it's been a conscious choice, mind you. I don't really know how to have the whole "race" discussion with him. I know I should ask him questions about what he's thinking, but I don't know what questions to even start with. We have a couple of books that talk about race, so maybe I'll pull those out in the next few days. We have read them before, but not lately.

Today's lesson - The art of whispering is one of those things that you should teach your kid at home, before the need to know how to do it arises, before he shows you he doesn't in fact know how to do it. And then proceeds to say something really loud at a quiet moment at church.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week

The first week in August is celebrated as World Breastfeeding week. Breastfeeding *may* be an issue I get a little passionate about. I'm sure you haven't noticed. I am often rather subtle. So, in case you've missed it, here are a few of the other times I've talked about it.  See, hardly ever. Subtly is one of my strengths. Second only to sarcasm.

Okay, in all seriousness, I had an experience yesterday that fits right in with World Breastfeeding Week. So, here ya go.

I've talked before about HM4HB (previously known as Eats on Feets). In this post, I shared the story of getting milk from a family whose beautiful baby boy had passed away. Yesterday, baby E, the kid and I traveled about 40 minutes from home to pick up the milk of another beautiful baby boy who passed away.

This was a different experience than the other time, but still so much the same. Different families, different cities, different assortment of people present, different length of time since the baby had passed away, different reactions the parents had to baby E, different ways of showing their grief. But, the pain in their eyes was the same. The sadness was the same. The grief was there, the same. The desire that this milk, meant for their own baby boys, be used to nourish some other child, the same. The desire for something good to come out of their horrific loss, the same. The hope, which I so admire and am in awe of, the same.  The beauty of their spirits, the same. The humbleness, and awe, and sense of responsibility I felt upon driving away with a full cooler, the same.

Last time the milk came home with us and was pretty much used completely within a few weeks. This time, the milk went to M's house (our beautiful, generous, loving sitter/friend) and filled her deep freeze to the brim, ready for baby E when he returns there next week (after having been home with hubby this summer). Last time, I found myself feeling so sad when I looked at or thought about the milk. Immensely grateful, but still sad. This time, I could feel a peace settling in on me as we filled the deep freeze. A feeling of gratefulness. While, of course, I still wish we didn't have that milk, that that sweet baby boy was still here to use it, I appreciate the strength it must have taken that mama yesterday - and the one all those months ago - to hand it over to us, trusting that it would be used with love and appreciation. I'm sure it was yet another goodbye they had to say.

So, today, I say thank you to all the mommas who milk share, for whatever reason you choose to do so. I know for some it is excruciating, for others joyful. For us, it is wrought with a mix of emotions as well. Gratefulness is what always rises to the top. Appreciation that these mommas are able to do what I am not, able to feed my child with the food God intended, the food that helps him to be so very healthy and happy. Thank you, mommas.

Today's lesson - I am again reminded that grief takes many forms and to some extent we are able to choose what those forms will be. While we are not able to control the feelings we experience, we are able to choose how we deal with the grief, able to choose to make something good come of it. Sometimes the best of us rises up in the midst of the worst experiences. My momma would probably call that grace. I think I'd agree with her.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I may have mentioned this once or twice...

Friends, I am one tired momma. I haven't mentioned it in awhile, but baby E still isn't sleeping great. I mean, it's a little better, but still pretty sucky. Here's where we are right now. I nurse baby E around 8pm. He falls asleep. I put him in his crib. He sleeps about 3 hours or a little less. I nurse him again and just put him in bed with us. Why? Well, because, for some reason, he wakes up IMMEDIATELY screaming if I put him back in the crib. No, idk what's different about this time, as compared to the 8pm time, but there sure is something, at least in baby E's world. So, from then on he's in bed with us. And what that means is that he's in the crook of my elbow. All night, y'all.

Now, sometimes he'll sleep like a 5hr stretch at this point, which is awesome, I mean pure bliss. But sometimes, well, not so much. Sometimes, he's still awake every 3 hours. Now, generally when he wakes up, it's not like he's all the way awake or even wanting to nurse. He generally just needs settling back down. So, it's a matter if me flipping over from one side to the other, switching him from one arm to the other, re-inserting the paci (dude, I so hate that thing). It's not - at all - the most comfortable way to sleep. But sleep is sleep, people, and these days I take it however I can get it.

And, speaking of sleep, that's where I'm headed now. To curl up in a little ball. For the next hour or so until baby E claims my arm.

Today's lesson - Sometimes we take things for granted, even though we don't realize we're doing it. Like sleep. I remember how I used to sleep til noon. (sigh...) I remember when having to get up before 7am was cruel. Oh, 7am, how I miss you...